On February 21, sixteen students from the tri-county area arrived at Orlando Shakes to participate in The English-Speaking Union's annual Shakespeare competition. Contestants were vying for the opportunity to win $1,000.00, and a chance to represent the Central Florida Branch of the ESU in this year's National hybrid format.
The semi-finals, as in 2020 and 2021, will remain virtual via a recorded performance from our branch champion. However, the national finals will be held during a live competition in New York City on the weekend of April 23-26, 2022. Only the top 10 finalists will travel to New York City for an exclusive and fun-filled weekend. On the panel of judges this year, deciding who would represent our branch, were Anne Hering: Director of Education at Orlando Shakes, Donna Miller: former Program Coordinator for Orange County's Language Arts, and Dr. Maurice "Socky" O'Sullivan: Professor Emeritus at Rollins College.
Left to right: Raina Grabowski, Kaylin Aguirre, and Laila Mahler
Raina Grabowski from University High School took First Place in the Shakespeare competition with her portrayal of Juliet from Romeo and Juliet and Sonnet 46 under the direction of her teacher, Mr. Keith Traver. Second Place went to Kaylin Aguirre from Freedom High School. Kaylin was coached by her teacher, Mrs. Angela Kahn, on her depiction of Julia from The Two Gentlemen of Verona and Sonnet 12. In Third Place was Laila Mahler who was trained by her teacher, Ms. Susan Lilley, at Trinity Preparatory School.
Ms. Susan Lilley was also the recipient of the Richard Burbage Award. Named after one of the most famous actors at The Globe Theatre, this award celebrates the work and dedication of teacher sponsors who have managed year after year to keep their students engaged, their involvement in our competition ongoing, and our audiences enriched. The final award of the day was The Love of the Bard Award. This award requires a teacher nomination and is an award given annually to one student who, "Exhibits determination, grit, fortitude, and a true passion for Shakespeare's works." Kaylin Aguirre from Freedom High School was the recipient of this $100.00 award.
We wish Raina Grabowski the best of luck as she advances to perform in the national competition this March.
Left to right: Ginger Bryant, VP Shakespeare Competition; Raina Grabowski, 2022 Shakespeare Competition First Place Winner; Barbara Hughes, Central Florida ESU President.
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